Day Twenty Five – The Cathedral of Assumption of Our Lady and Saint John the Baptist
Footsteps echo through the vaulted ceilings of the cathedral, tempered only by the hushed tones of visitors admiring the ornate
60 miles east of Prague lies the sleepy town of Kutná Hora. Here you can find St. Barbara’s Cathedral, the oldest silver mine in Europe and the infamous Bone Church, the town also has this cathedral of Saint John, the oldest Cistercian cathedral in Bohemia.
One of the first Gothic styled buildings, the Cathedral of Assumption of Our Lady and Saint John the Baptist was built in the 12th century by the King of Bohemia. The cathedral then burned down during the Hussite War in the early 15th century and wasn’t rebuilt until the 18th century, at which point it was built in a mixture of Gothic and Baroque architecture.
At the foot of the altar lie the remains of St. Felix and St. Vincent, gifted to the church by Pope Benedict XIV in 1742 on the 600th anniversary of the foundation of the church itself.
Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, the church is bedecked in religious art and even has a treasury room that houses the oldest Gothic monstrance in the world among other things. The best explanation of a monstrance is a holy relic that holds consecrated items, if that makes things any clearer.
Climbing a wooden spiral staircase, you can actually follow the platforms among the rafters to the upper balconies for a beautiful overhead view of the church. Walking to the back of the church, right above the front door, you have the opportunity to look down the nave. Back downstairs you can wander the sparsely filled aisles looking at relics from the original monastery, or spend your time staring up at the stained glass and archways, simply enjoying the beauty of a historical building.
Day Sixteen – Český Krumlov Castle
Red stucco roofs span across the city, interrupting the lush landscape of the Czech countryside with a hint of humanity.
Made up of 41 buildings, Český Krumlov Castle is the second largest castle in the Czech Republic, and spans across the entire hill it’s built on. Built in 1234 by the Rosenberg family, the castle is well fortified with a view overlooking the Old Town and surrounding area with the Vltava river as a natural barrier.
Now that no aristocrats inhabit the castle, tourists are lucky enough to climb to the top of the tower, wander through the castle museum and up past the gardens. Wherever you walk, the view continually gets better the more you explore, and subsequently more crowded. Back to back, craning necks to see over cameras, selfie sticks and heads of other sightseers, this particular viewing platform gave a beautiful panoramic worth wading through crowds for.
Český Krumlov itself relies almost solely on tourism as its source of income. Walking around the city you’re hard pressed to find someone that doesn’t speak some amount of English, the new common language, and most signs around the city are translated in at least three languages aside from the expected Czech. With its multicultural history and ratio of one hotel bed to every five residents, this town is unlike many other places, giving you the ability to watch so many cultures meet and mesh in a quaint Czech town.
Day Four – Prague Castle.
Built in the late 9th century, Prague Castle is one of the most visited attractions in the city. Attracting over 1.5 million visitors annually, the grounds extend across the hillside overlooking the city, giving a viewpoint unlike any other.
A quick but crowded tram ride up the hillside brings you to a number of gates to the grounds of the castle, but to avoid any outrageous wait times, find a side entrance.
The grounds themselves extend along nearly the entire ridge, encompassing not only the castle but a summer palace, gardens, various entertaining areas for the royal family, cathedrals and now the house of the Czech president. Meandering through the parks and surrounding neighborhoods can easily captivate you for hours at a time, but to get to the main areas you’ll have to brave the shuffling pace crowds of tourists maintain.
Walking into St. Vitus’ Cathedral mid afternoon was breathtaking. Light poured in through the numerous stained glass windows, washing the room and passerby in a rainbow of colors. Wandering outside and down to the terrace courtyards, you have the ability to see the entire Lesser Quarter and across the water into the heart of the city.
Most stop to admire the view, pulling out phones or cameras to record the sight, but not everyone seems to care about the view. Dancing across the benches at the viewpoint is this young German girl. Giggling with her companion, she cartwheels around the area, confidently strutting and quite literally dancing to the beat of her own drum. The thing that seems most amazing about this ability, is the utter unrepentant attitude she seemed to hold regarding having her own fun. Spinning, shimmying and tapping her way across the city, she ignored the gawks from strangers and simply enjoyed the experience she created for herself.